East of Eden (1955)

<strong class="MovieTitle">East of Eden</strong> (1955)

(On Cable TV, February 2018) As someone who doesn’t react particularly well to the surly teenager archetype, I’m not surprised in the slightest to feel a bit underwhelmed by East of Eden, which features James Dean as a moody teenager trying to figure things out in a complicated setting with separated parents (one of them in hiding in a neighbouring town), sibling rivalry, overbearing religion, gathering clouds of war and difficult romance. It’s really not meant as a feel-good movie, and the slow pacing of the film doesn’t really help things along. This being said, there are a few things worth dwelling upon. Dean does have a certain magnetic quality to him, albeit so often repeated by other actors that it has been dulled compared to what audiences must have experienced at the time. The early-twentieth-century atmosphere of a small coastal California town is faithfully rendered in glorious colour, and there’s a sequence featuring a train and defrosting cabbage that’s quite impressive in its own right. Otherwise, I suspect that East of Eden will appeal most strongly to those with a built-in interest for historical family drama. Or to Dean enthusiasts, as one of only three in a far-too-short filmography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *